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The Gambia: The political crisis explained

Nearly 1,000 holidaymakers are flying home from The Gambia due to security concerns over the worsening political situation in the country.

Here are the facts:
The election brought in a new president for the first time in 22 years.

How did the crisis start?
After governing the small West African country for more than 22 years, President Yahya Jammeh was voted out in an election in on December 1.

Jammeh, who gained a reputation among ordinary Gambians and human rights activists for torturing and killing opponents, was defeated by Adama Barrow, a former north London Argos security guard.

He initially conceded defeat but made a dramatic u-turn a week later.

Jammeh, who first seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and once said he would lead for "a billion years", refused to accept the election result and went on to launch a Supreme Court challenge.

The incumbent has refused to step down by the transition date of January 19 despite the African Union urging him to facilitate a "peaceful" transfer of power.

Jammeh declared a 90-day state of emergency on his penultimate day in office which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said could lead to a "high" risk of military intervention and civil disturbance.

The state of emergency banned "acts of disobedience" and "acts intended to disturb public order".

Meanwhile, the president-elect and election officials fled to Senegal fearing for their safety.

As a result, tourists were evacuated from the country and approximately 26,000 Gambians fled to neighbouring Senegal fearing civil unrest.

Senegal, which has been mandated by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to spearhead a response, has set a deadline of midnight on Thursday for him to step down or face military intervention.

"If no political solution is found, we will step in," Colonel Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegalese military, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Nigeria has also sent aircraft and troops to Senegal, and deployed a warship.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement Ghana would send 205 combat troops to Gambia as part of a regional mission to enable President-elect Barrow to be sworn in.

Security has set up checkpoints in the capital Banjul as tensions increase.

President-elect Barrow has said he will be sworn in as planned at 4pm on Thursday.

But instead of an inauguration ceremony to take place at the National Stadium in Bakau, he is to be sworn in at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

Announcing his inauguration on social media, he said: "My dearest Gambians - the presidency of Yahya Jammeh is officially over. The new era of Gambia is here at last."

Ministers from Jammeh’s government have quit over his refusal to accept defeat but the Gambian army, an estimated 900 troops, have expressed loyalty.

Opposition figures claim that Jammeh is concerned that he may be prosecuted over alleged abuses of power when Barrow takes over as president.

Barrow’s spokesman, Halifa Sallah, told a news conference at a Banjul beachside hotel surrounded by palm trees that the coalition "did not want to go to power stepping over dead bodies."

Addressing Jammeh, he said: "The end has come. Accept it."

The president-elect said that Jammeh would be able to stay in The Gambia and be honoured as a former head of state if he stepped down.

However, he has until midnight to do so before Ecowas troops enter The Gambia to remove him by force.


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